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Latest Issue: Autumn 2018

Nauticalia founder passes away

Lynn Lewis, founder of Nauticalia has passed away after a long period of ill-health. Lewis began his career as a BBC television and Fleet Street journalist, later pouring his energies into the development of one of the UK's most respected specialist mail order businesses. 

He handed the reins of the niche Nauticalia retail and wholesale business to his son in law Chris Murdoch in 2003, having founded it in the 1970s, initially sourcing and selling original nautical antiques with his wife Val. The pair originally operated their business from a floating rubbish barge on the Thames at Shepperton. Demand far exceeded supply and that then led Lynn to take the plunge and develop a range of reproduction decorative items as well as to design and source a wide range of nautically themed products including practical clothing and equipment for boating enthusiasts. With a wealth of unique products, including some invented by Lewis himself, the underlying principle in developing the range was "If it traditionally comes from a ship, which generally means it's been built to last, let's reproduce it." The enterprise Lewis developed and led became a classic niche specialist and a model for other entrepreneurs entering the buoyant mail order market. 

The burgeoning business by necessity had relocated from the river to its current day premises on the banks of the Thames at Shepperton. These idyllically located premises house a working boatyard, Nauticalia's offices, one of its retail outlets and, in a much more recent departure, a riverside coffee shop. Its wholesale arm supplies a wide range of outlets in the UK  and overseas, including marine museums and coastal gift and chandlery shops. In 1998 its strong international business led to it being selected to receive the coveted Queen's Award for Exports. 

A past chairman of the Marine Trades Association, a founding member of The Catalogue Exchange (now the Direct Commerce Association), Lewis' business operated a very successful direct mail order catalogue until earlier this year, and now operates as a direct online retailer and wholesaler, in addition to having a small number of its own retail stores.


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